Nyree Dunn is our 5th and final Influential Female to round out our celebrations of 25 years since the Women’s Competition started in Southern Inland back in 1997.
Nyree has been a SIRU Volunteer of the Year (2019), recently made a Life Member of the Leeton Phantoms, and has filled almost every volunteer role for both the Senior and Junior Phantoms as well as playing for the Dianas up until recently.
Nyree grew up in Broken Hill, where other football codes were common, but not for Girls. When she moved to Canberra for University she was first exposed playing for Norths (now known as Uni-Norths). Only knowing that you couldn’t pass forward, Nyree took to the field focussed on two things, catching, and running.
Her partner brought her back to Leeton as the Dianas were starting out, where she played a few games when it suited in 1998. Nyree got a full season with the Dianas in 1999 after moving to Leeton, with most memories being the off-field events, bus trips and dress ups.
Nyree noted the interesting rule set back in 1997 when the comp started, with Women’s only allowed to wear sneakers, no studded Football Boots allowed! Often the Women’s Representative team was an after-thought to the Men’s, with hand-me-down or alternate kit used for the Women.
The representative teams of today certainly owe a lot of thanks to the players of the 1990’s who trailblazed the competition and programs into where they are now.
The support both in Clubs and Schools has come a long way, with multiple opportunities for all players regardless of gender.
To see the game continue to grow, Nyree believes a focus on the grass roots is of the upmost importance, and continue promoting that Rugby is a game for everyone. Continuing to improve our female representative programs to be equal to our men’s is also important, and it seems that all Zones or similar are doing so.
Nyree is particularly excited by the opportunities being offered to Junior Females, with programs such as Brumbies Country, Brumbies U18s and hopefully Super W one day.
Nyree would like to see the Women’s Comp moved to XVs where it initially started, even if some weeks teams didn’t have numbers, everyone will do their best to make it work much like back in the early years of the competition (Dianas won a historic game in Hillston with 8 on 15, unheard of in this day and age). XVs is truly designed for all shapes and sizes, whilst 7s and 10s still limit the desired build of the players.Similar in Juniors, hopefully it can move to 10-a-side soon to include more players, and then from there look to XVs.
“The last thing I’ll say is that I’m so grateful for rugby coming into my life 25 years ago. I cherish the friendships I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve been given and the fun times I’ve had as part of the Phantoms Phamily as well as the wider rugby family. Although I’m a bit past playing in SIRU again I still love going to training and trying to encourage and support more girls coming through rugby to love the game, on and off the field, as much as I do. I’m also really looking forward to pulling on the boots in the Golden Oldies Competition during March 2023 in Perth. It proves you are never too old to play rugby. Any women and guys over 35 keen have a run as part of the Phantom Phossils and Derelict Dianas please go to the Phantom Phossils facebook page for more details.”